Monthly Archives: July 2017

Hate or Love?

Hate or Love? 

It may surprise some of you to learn that you are a member of a “hate” group. According to a certain “civil rights” organization, you and I are guilty of thought-crimes and worse. We believe the Bible is the literal and infallible word of God. We believe that man is essentially corrupt in his fallen state, and that we are in need of a loving Savior. We believe this Bible prescribes that we are to live according to certain moral standards regarding our interactions with others, including not murdering our fellow man, not stealing from him, and that any sexual interaction is to be confined within the bounds of marriage. Shockingly, we believe marriage is a covenant entered into between one man and one woman. We believe that we should be at liberty to practice our beliefs, and that these beliefs comprise the one great truth. We also believe that those who choose to not believe this one truth have the liberty to do so, but that they then are excluded from the truth and its salvation, subjecting those people to God’s justice. It is said that the members of our group regularly meet to ceremoniously sing songs and recite prayers to further cement our beliefs and to encourage conformity among the members of the group. Even worse, many meet weekly in smaller cell groups, often in one another’s homes, for continued indoctrination. It is these beliefs, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a “civil rights watchdog group,” that makes organizations like Fellowship at Cross Creek a hate group.

ABC News (and other “mainstream” news organizations similarly) reported:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered a speech to an alleged hate group at an event closed to reporters on Tuesday night, but the Department of Justice is refusing to reveal what he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is the “prominent” civil rights group that has designated the Alliance Defending Freedom, a federation of attorneys and others dedicated to defending the religious rights of individuals and organizations, as an “anti-LGBT hate group”. NBC, Newsweek, Salon, and other news outlets joined ABC in terming ADF a hate group.

ADF defends the rights of individuals and organizations from attempts to undermine religious rights, the sanctity of human life, and marriage and the family. By trying to protect religious rights, the ADF, along with the Family Research Council and the American Enterprise Institute, and other organizations that encourage religious freedom, has been designated a hate group. By that definition, Fellowship qualifies as a hate group, as well.

Let’s be clear – neither the Alliance Defending Freedom, nor Fellowship at Cross Creek are hate groups. Anyone with any ability to think can see that is nonsense. Advocating for religious freedom, human life, and marriage and family does not constitute hate. To the contrary, ADF and Fellowship are motivated by love. Matthew 22 tells us that we are to love our Lord and God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and, secondly, we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is upon these two points that the law depends. If we are to act rightly, our actions will be motivated by love of God and our neighbor. Any actions outside that motivation are wrong.

Jesus told His disciples that they would be misjudged and persecuted for their beliefs. Matthew 10:22 tells us, “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.”

The war between good and evil continues. But, Jesus tells us in His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) we are to love our enemies, for even the worst of us can love our friends. Those we are accused of hating are precisely the ones He commands us to love. We are going to be misunderstood. We are going to be hated. We are to respond by loving our God with our all, and loving our neighbor and our enemy as we love ourselves.

Loving God and loving our neighbor and our enemy makes Fellowship at Cross Creek a love group.

~ Hudd ~

Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church in Branson, MO

www.fellowshipatcrosscreek.com

 

Judging Books By Their Covers – A Tribute to Red Stum

Judging Books By Their Covers – A Tribute to Red Stum

Books are wonderful. Books are a collection of ideas from a person’s mind, from the seeming nothing of the synapse to the printed page; a personal act of creation. That is why we as humans value the arts so highly. It is the one way that we elevate ourselves above the mundane and everyday, and take a small step toward deity: a painter who creates beauty from a blank canvas; a sculptor who uncovers a marvelous form inside a block of granite; or the writer who transforms white paper and pools of ink into a coherent and enduring collection of thoughts that have the power to change the lives of its readers. Think for just a moment about one of your favorite books. For me, I return to my days in high school and the time I was forced to read To Kill a Mockingbird. Not only did the book awaken thoughts in my highly provincial, Ozarkian mind regarding race (at that time in our corner of the Ozarks, we had virtually no minority population) but, I was fascinated by the prose of author Harper Lee. Never had I encounterd a work so conversational, even simple, that was so impregnated with deep thought and emotion. A third grader could easily comprehend the words of this book, while a fourth-year seminarian could spend months mining truth from its pages. I believe it remains my favorite book to this day.

Take a look at the books in your house, or some time to remember a trip into your local bookstore or library. Notice the colors, the words, the “gotcha” graphics? I am not talking about the books themselves, but their covers. Cover designers and photographers receive special recognition. Why? Because packaging sells. A book has to have a catchy title. It needs a cover design that grabs your attention while conveying the spirit of the book. A cover photo of a pretty girl encourages us to at least pick the book up, if not buy it and read it.

Let’s face it – we judge a lot of books by their covers or movies by their posters. I have gotten pretty good at picking movies that Hunny B and I like that way. We also judge people this way. Much as we regard the design of the dust jacket of a book or the packaging of some breakfast cereal at the grocery store, we have been conditioned to judge people by their appearance. A person with tattoos, piercings, and strangely colored hair gives a much different impression than one more conservatively attired and adorned. We each, to some extent, have some image of ourselves that we try to project, and this image may or may not truly depict who we are in our core being. But, slick packaging and eye-appealing covers are not what actually make for a good product or book. We may be enticed or repulsed by what we see on the outside, but we really are buying and consuming that which is inside.

I remember the first time I met Red Stum. It would have been in the late 1980s or early ‘90s at another church in Branson. I reminded Red of that meeting recently, but he did not remember it that way, saying he never went to another church in Branson but Fellowship. But, he did. For those of us who knew Red, there could be no mistaking him. I remember his rough look, as someone who had lived a hard and turbulent life. His tattooed arms, his gruff and overly frank manner of speech. I remember thinking he was highly opinionated yet woefully ignorant, which is not an appealing combination. Judging Red by his cover did not leave me with a good impression.

About fifteen years later, Hunny B and I came to Fellowship. Much had transpired in my life to make me a decidedly different person than had met Red in the previous century. Red, who had been at Fellowship for several years, was unchanged, still rough and gruff, still opinionated. As I was soon to learn, Red was not nearly as ignorant as I had previously judged him to be. No, he did not have a great deal of formal education, but Red actually was a quite knowledgeable man, with wide-ranging interests that ran from dirt track motorcycle racing to social-political conflict in the United States and our nation’s need of redemption through the love of Jesus Christ. I got to know a man who deeply loved his Lord, and loved his wife and family. He cared so much for each of us here at Fellowship. I found that this man who always spoke his mind (and might have better employed a filter at times) always exhibited one of the foundations of Fellowship at Cross Creek – Speaking the Truth in Love. I do not believe it would ever occur to Red to speak an untruth. I found I had very wrongly judged Red by his cover. Fellowship was blessed to have this speaker of truth with us for many years, and we will miss him.

When I was a teenager, Harper Lee taught me about prejudice and about speaking truth through her writing. Many years later, Red Stum taught me the same through his living. Until we meet again, Red.

~ Hudd ~

Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church in Branson, MO

Natural Law: The Basis for Independence Day

Natural Law: The Basis for Independence Day

241 years ago, Thomas Jefferson put quill to parchment and penned the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson was responsible for much of the content of this magnificent document, but credit is given also to co-authors Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston. Though the Colonies and Great Britain had been involved in armed conflict prior to the time the Second Continental Congress convened in Philadelphia early in the summer of 1775, the thought of independence from Britain was far from universal among its delegates. Indeed, while some few delegates advocated independence from the out set of the Congress, John Adams chief among them, these secessionists were considered by most to be on the radical fringe. The object of the Congress was to oversee the conduct of the armed rebellion against the crown. The object of that rebellion was not necessarily independence from Britain, rather a struggle for greater autonomy in governing the affairs of colonists an ocean away from Parliament and King George. Many recent enactments by his majesty’s government were seen by the colonists as capricious and punitive, and therefore, unworthy to be considered law.

Our national forefathers were well read men, and advocates of the concept of natural law. Natural law, as described by philosophers such as Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, is the rational extension of God’s eternal law or the laws of nature as applied by men. This is the source of man’s “unalienable rights” noted in Jefferson’s declaration to include “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Twentieth century author and philosopher C.S. Lewis declared natural law to be universal, and applicable to life on other planets should such life exist. Laws of man, called positive law, that countered the tenants of natural law were considered void, lacking in any moral standing to be considered as law. This was the view of the majority of delegates to the Second Continental Congress of laws and taxes imposed upon them by King George and his government, giving the colonies the right to oppose such laws by armed insurrection, leading to outright rebellion and a  battle for independence. When the laws of man lack the moral standing of natural law, such laws are considered evil and are to be avoided and contained.

There are passages in the bible that attest to and agree with natural law. One such passage is Romans 1:18-20. In this scripture, Paul, a legal scholar of his time, wrote,

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Even absent direct divine revelation or His written word, the very nature of His creation speaks of God’s sovereignty and His majesty. Rational man can extrapolate from observation that much of what is contained within the Ten Commandments is a natural extension of God’s divine law. Even before being inscribed on stone tablets, men understood murder, stealing, adultery, and disrespecting their parents were wrong. So is the imposition of punitive taxes without the benefit of representation.

So, this week while you enjoy your barbeque and fireworks, remember the role played in our independence by natural law, and the intellectually curious forefathers who were learned in natural law and believed it right to found our nation. Absent their advocacy of natural law, there would have been no declaration, and you would not be enjoying a holiday this week.

~ Hudd ~

Kevin Huddleston is an Elder at Fellowship at Cross Creek Church in Branson, MO